Japan pledged fresh aid to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam Tuesday when leaders from the four Asian nations met on the sidelines of a regional summit. Japan announced 21.5 billion yen (US$180 million; Ђ152.5 million) in aid to Vietnam for an irrigation project, assistance to poor areas and medical facilities, a government statement said.
It promised 200 million yen (US$1.7 million; Ђ1.4 million) for water-supply and hospital construction in Laos, and 300 million yen (US$2.5 million; Ђ2.11 million) for building a special economic zone in Cambodia.
Japan has also earmarked 1.5 billion yen (US$12 million; Ђ1.3 million) to cooperate with a Vietnam researchers on stopping bird flu, officials said.
Eager to woo friends in the region at a time when its rivalry with China is growing, Japan has been aggressively announcing aid packages during this year's ASEAN summit, which brings together leaders from China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in a first East Asian Summit.
The aid package was announced in a meeting among Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai and Laotian Prime Minister Bounnhang Vorachith during the ASEAN and East Asia Summit. Japan is giving US$135 million (Ђ114 million) to help fight bird flu and stockpile Tamiflu in the region and an additional 7.5 billion yen (US$70 million; Ђ59.3 million) in aid to Southeast Asia to fight poverty and promote educational exchanges, reports the AP. I.L.